Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga (L) speaks in an interview with Xinhua in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 23, 2019. John Amaratunga on Tuesday told Xinhua in an interview that the multiple blasts on churches and hotels which have claimed over 300 lives on Sunday was "internationally oriented" and the situation here is gradually returning to normal. (Xinhua/Yang Zhou)
by Lin Hao, Yang Zhou, Zhu Ruiqing
COLOMBO, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga on Tuesday told Xinhua in an interview that the multiple blasts on churches and hotels which have claimed over 300 lives on Sunday was "internationally oriented" and the situation here is gradually returning to normal.
On Sunday, a string of explosions went off across Sri Lanka, the worst acts of violence since the country's civil war ended in 2009.
"We have had our own problems 10 years ago, but this time it is an international movement that has sought to dislocate the Sri Lankan economy particularly by attacking the tourist hotels and also to create unrest in the country by attacking the Christian or Catholic churches," the minister said in the interview.
Amaratunga said this type of terror attacks has been experienced by many countries in Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world.
"This incident is most unexpected. I, as the minister of tourism and minister of Christian affairs, did not have any notice, even though there has been some information through the intelligence. If I was told, I would have alerted all the hotels in the city to take necessary precautions."
Some media reports said local police had acquired related intelligence 10 days before the bombings. However, the government failed to effectively act upon it.
So far, Sri Lankan police have arrested 40 suspects over the multiple bombings and beefed up security across the country.
The minister said his ministry had recommended all the hotels be equipped with the apparatus in order to check the baggage of tourists. "We must now insist that every hotel that is registered with the tourism authority should have the machines that are able to screen the people as well as the baggage."
Taking the explosion at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo as an example, the minister said that the suspect entered the hotel with a bag, and if such machines had been equipped earlier, the security might be able to find out what it was in the bag.
Speaking of the Chinese who got injured and killed in the multiple bombing explosions, the minister said he was very sorry for and saddened by the bombing incidents and had been to hospitals where the injured Chinese were being treated.
"I visited some of the hospitals where the Chinese tourists are receiving treatment. I spoke to them and I found that they were on the road to recovering, they were very much alive and they were given the best of treatment. I have also assured them that whenever they want to get back to their country, we will give all the support and assistance."
During the interview, Amaratunga also expressed his confidence that the situation in Sri Lanka will gradually go back to normal.
All the churches targeted by the attacks will be alleviated by different agencies. A number of organizations within the government will help to rebuild the churches. And the hotels have their insurance which will support their rebuilding, particularly the restaurants where the blasts took place, he said.
"I have visited the hotels and assessed the damage that has been caused. The hotels may come back to business soon."
The minister continued that Sri Lanka is very much depending on tourism which is one of the main sectors to increase the earning of foreign exchanges.
"We have to bounce back, we have to going to the international arena and tell them: well, it happened, now we have contained it and we are ensuring that it will not be repeated."
Amaratunga also thanked the countries including China that have expressed their support for Sri Lanka and provided assistance to his country.